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Florida Approves Health Insurance Rates For 2016 On HealthCare.Gov

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. Photo- Abe Aboraya, WMFE

File photo of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in Orlando. The federal government still must approve health insurance rates for 2016. (Photo- Abe Aboraya, WMFE)

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has approved increased monthly premiums for most health plans sold on the federal health insurance exchange HealthCare.gov.

The rates still need to be approved by federal health officials. And Dena Mendelsohn with Consumers Union said the numbers need closer inspection.

“You don’t only want to look at the rate of increase because what we are looking at is the actual dollar amount that each individual is going to be paying rather than the average of an entire state,” Mendelsohn said.

Overall, state officials approved an average increase of 9.5 percent. Central Florida plans bucked the trend, though, as most individual and family plans will cost less next year, when you factor in subsidies.

The announcement was quickly politicized, with federal officials calling it a win. Regulators were able to reduce the increases insurance companies wanted, and single-digit increases the norm, wrote Ben Wakana, the press secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Florida’s proposed rates for the 2016 plan year demonstrate that the Affordable Care Act is working to spur competition and transparency in the Marketplaces, keeping premium increases to single digits and leading to affordable new choices for consumers,” Wakana said. “We are pleased that Florida was able to review rates and to significantly reduce proposed rates for more than half of the issuers in the state. Floridians will continue to have access to quality, affordable health coverage.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out an email saying that the increases go against what Democrats running for the Senate have said.

“Unsurprisingly, the announced rate hikes fly in the face of promises made by Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, who both falsely claimed that Obamacare would cut costs for Florida families,” the email reads.

Murphy’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Grayson responded, saying Republicans are ignoring the tax credits, which cut the cost of insurance.

“And the GOP alternative to Obamacare? Don’t get sick,” Grayson said.

Not all plans are available in all Florida counties. Florida led the nation in enrollment on HealthCare.Gov for plans offered during the last open enrollment.

The next open enrollment starts November first.

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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